POCATELLO, Idaho - The Bannock County Landfill is now producing power for your homes after completing its four-year long gas-to-energy project.
The landfill is the third county landfill in Idaho to complete this kind of project, but Bannock County is the first to own all the equipment needed to produce the power. That means the county will get all the revenue from selling the power generated by methane gas to Idaho Power, resulting in a total $15 million.
Right now there are 32 wells buried at different depths in the old and new landfills to collect the gasses emitted.
"We're adding five this summer, which will get more methane and generate more power," said Therese Marchetti, regulatory compliance manager at the landfill. "Then in five years we're going to add another generator which will enable us to supply even more power."
Marchetti said the Bannock County commissioners deserve credit for helping the project become a reality.
"Any time you can take something that's useless waste in the ground and turn it into something positive and money, that's great," said Bannock County Commissioner Howard Manwaring.
Idaho Power said it really likes when it can draw power from environmentally-conscious sources, like turning methane produced by garbage into energy to power homes.
"It's enough to serve, in the off-peak serving time, about 650 homes per megawatt," said Mark Lupo, regional community relations representative for Idaho Power. "You probably get about 200-220 homes out of that same megawatt in the summertime."
Lupo said with a new generator in five years, there would be a total of 3.2 megawatts produced, which flows into their Portneuf substation and mixes with all other power.
The project manager said it's not a very complicated process, because compressed natural gas produces energy by itself, and is something cars run on.
"It's the same stuff," said Stephen Freiburger, project manager with Paragon Consulting out of Kuna. "So instead of running it through a car we're running it through a 20-cylinder engine."
The current landfill has been operating since 1993. Before that, the previous landfill had been in operation since 1943.